In 2014, Unwinnable launched a weekly digital magazine, an eclectic mix of cultural criticism, fiction and general weirdness. The 28 stories contained in this volume, penned by some of the most respected voices in the industry, represent the best games writing published in Unwinnable Weekly's first six months.
Recent videogames like Dragon Age: Inquisition compete for space with weird old ones like Takashiís Castle. Youíll read stories about games that donít require screens, like Netrunner, pinball and Choose Your Own Adventures. You may also find that as much as Unwinnable's stories are about play, theyíre also about politics, horror, compulsion, love, death and the whole myriad of experiences that define our lives.
With an introduction by Gerard Way, singer of My Chemical Romance and writer of the Eisner Award-Winning comic book series Umbrella Academy.
"Online game periodical Unwinnable is a bit of hidden gem within game writing - not least since they much of their top material transitioned to a weekly magazine subscription model following a successful Kickstarter. Unwinnable helmer Stu Horvath has put together this exclusive book of some of the best articles from the first year, initially just for this bundle - and we couldn't be happier!" – Simon Carless
"From the moment it first appeared, Unwinnable has provided a consistent home to some of the most compelling, surprising and unusual essays about videogames and videogame culture to be found anywhere. Supporting more Unwinnable means more good writing coming into this world"– Tom Bissell (Harper's Magazine, Grantland, Gears of War: Judgement)
"If you listen carefully to conversations about the state of videogame writing, there's a yearning for outlets that break from established norms repeated ad nauseum in consumer-facing games media. Unwinnable is the kind of outlet these voices are looking for. It's born from love, not commercial endeavor. It features content chosen by creative merit, not search engine optimization. When you support Unwinnable financially, you aren't supporting a media conglomerate's profits. You're supporting soul."– Dennis Scimeca (Daily Dot, Salon, NPR)
"We share and discuss and, every now and again, because of something we read, we change a little. Unwinnable is one of those sites that routinely publishes the kind of stories that people want to share: creative non-fiction in and around pop culture, especially videogames. Videogames are a powerful prism through which we can explore our wider culture and ourselves. Their stories, angles and complexities reveal truths about the society in which they have been created, about the art and business of contemporary living, about humanness. Unwinnable is in the business of poking at those truths, unraveling them and, sometimes, making fun of them. Itís the kind of writing that we love to read and that we should support."– Simon Parkin (The New Yorker, The Guardian)
The nature of interactive media gives games an inherently chaotic core. There is no right way to play, so they themselves remain fluid. Mercurial. Defying our expectations of them. They are artifacts defined by preference.
Like the way I will do my best to sneak around in a game that doesn't have stealth mechanics. Or the way Chuck constantly leaves the pack to explore on his own in co-op games (you know, like Left 4 Dead). The developers themselves don't even know what their games will do once they set loose in the wild – just look at World of Warcraft's Corrupted Blood plague or the way Gears of War players would use boom shields to build makeshift fortifications in Horde Mode.
Because games are interactive, they are malleable. The nature of the game is dependent wholly on the player(s). If there isn't one objectively true way to playa game, then there can be neither an objectively true game, nor an objectively true player.
In recent months, I have become enamored of the term 'interactive thinger.' The broader the definition, the better, really – it removes a lot of aesthetic hang-ups when you decide practically everything outside of the 9 to 5 grind is play. That way, I can think about board games and pen and paper RPGs and folk games in the same way that I think about videogames, and vice versa.
Games aren't like Platonic solids or animal species. I cannot force them into rigid taxonomies or define them by obsessively cataloging criteria. I can just enjoy them, and wonder why.